Share this content
22

I am thinking about a shop front

I am thinking about a shop front

Didn't find your answer?

About 3 years ago I went to TaxAssist's discovery day. Their business model has left a lasting impression on me. One of their key  requirement is for franchisees to open a shop front from year 3 of their franchise.

I have been thinking about a shopfront for some time. Their was a stage when I found a suitable premises but due to some legal issues I could not take it further.

If you do have a shopfront, I would be grateful if you could share your experience. What is it lke? I mean in terms of:

  • Additional costs, are these more than recovered through increased fees?
  • Sort of client walking through the door?
  • Areas that came to light to you once you open the doors. These not even occur to you earlier
  • What would you do differently if you could turn the clock back?
  • How did you choose the location?
  • Has it been a good move?

Please feel free to comment generally rather then responding to my list of questions.

Thanks

Replies (22)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By DBlood
21st Jun 2011 22:50

Unprofessional and gives a "cheap & nasty" image.

If you don't mind wasting half your day answering daft questions from people looking for free advice or second opinions then I suppose it could work.  Do you really think that worthwhile clients with decent businesses  pick their accountant because his offices are next door to Tescos? 

Personally I think it's unprofessional and reduces you to the level of a branch of Mothercare - but I've no doubt some will say its the way forward.  

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
22nd Jun 2011 06:26

Half way office/shopfront

Personally I think it's unprofessional and reduces you to the level of a branch of Mothercare - but I've no doubt some will say its the way forward.  

 

Posted by DBlood on Tue, 21/06/2011 - 22:50

I can assure DBlood that we are not 'cheap & nasty'! Our experiences are very different to your assumptions of half a day being wasted. Personally, I think it is quite rude (and incorrect) to say an accountant is unprofessional merely because they may operate from a shopfront! Surely, quality of service is what makes an accountant professional or unprofessional. 

FirstTab - We are located in a very visible position, and location is the key. We do not have the typical plate-glass shopfront but we do have very large signage and we are now a local 'landmark' and people use our office to give directions. Previously we operated from out-of-the-way offices that new/potential clients could never find and that was a real setback. Our office rent included all services, but we pay for our own in the shop/office so it is more expensive, but I feel it is justified due to the increased number of enquiries we receive with no extra effort.

We get all our business from referrals, website and walk-ins. We do no active marketing at all. We get the occasional 'local' popping in for free advice, but we got that from the other residents of the office block anyway. We do get people just walking in without an appointment, but that is the whole point of a shopfront, so make sure you have staff to deal with them.

Balance the extra costs against reduced marketing costs and then judge for yourself.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Ken Howard
22nd Jun 2011 08:02

Essential to have back office and receptionist
I had a High Street shop front and it was a nightmare.

OK, a good point was that it did bring in some good clients. But that was far over shadowed by the sheer number of time wasters. Almost a constant stream of freeloaders wanting me to look at their payslip or pensioners asking about tax free interest. Not to mention being plagued by salesmen, charity collectors, drunks and druggies. Finally clients who constantly popped in and chatted just because they could see me through the window.

My mistake was having a shop so small that I had nowhere to hide to actually do the work, and not having a receptionist to deal with the walk-ins. I can't have done more than half a days work becuase of all the interruptions.

Would I do it again? Maybe, BUT only if it were big enough to have a back room or upstairs I could use as an office to hide to do the work AND only if I could put a receptionist in the shop to deal with the time-wasters and offer basic advice.

Please don't underestimate the sheer number of wastrels that will come through the door!

Thanks (0)
Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
22nd Jun 2011 08:33

Oh dear

DB that was a bit knee jerk wasn't it, for example who is to say you wouldn't pick to be nearby Waitrose.

As it happens, in my last firm we had a shop front office in a major town in a street used my many commuters each day walking to the startion for services into London (it was also just around the corner from M&S and a nice little coffee shop, Tescos being over the poor and riff-raff side of the town).  There is no doubt that the constant reminder of seeing the firm's name and a pleasant frontage attracted some excellent clients over the years and was a real benefit to the practice.

If I had my time again I would have no hesitation in considering a shop front.  From my point of view, having an open & unobstructed view into a neat & tidy reception, with comfy chairs and a couple of plants is as important as the location, ie it has to welcome you.  So different from traditional street front offices with just a door and brass plate.  One extra I suppose is a notice, at eye height, "No Riff-Raff"

Thanks (0)
avatar
By bernard michael bayly
22nd Jun 2011 09:55

Shop Front?????

Don't underestimate the vagaries of planning law when looking at premises. If you require change of use it may not be easy and would be certainly be resisted if you are changing from retail to offices in a high street location.

If you're not in a main location but rather in a back street that reduces the efficacy of having a "shop front", which is footfall past your window 

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
22nd Jun 2011 13:05

My own experience

I cannot speak for the experience of others, but our shopfront/office is on a main road into town, and not in the town itself.

Virtually all of the walk-ins have noticed us as they drive past and they are looking for an accountant. The people just wanting free advice are few and far between (and we got those even in our out-of-the-way offices), but then we don't get much footfall past our office, so maybe that is the key to the amount of time-wasters. Quite often we get comments that they noticed our signage first, and then looked us up on the internet before calling in or telephoning us.

We had no problems getting change of use from retail.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By DBlood
22nd Jun 2011 14:25

Accounts-R-Us
Oh dear  DB that was a bit knee jerk wasn't it, for example who is to say you wouldn't pick to be nearby Waitrose. 

Posted by Paul Scholes on Wed, 22/06/2011 - 08:33

 

 

"knee jerk" ?   No. it's an honest opinion. Either you are running a professional practice offering a quality prfessional service to clients, or, you are running a branch of "Accounts-R-Us" providing a cheap and cheerful service from a shop.  I dont think there is any in between.

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
22nd Jun 2011 14:46

Those with actual experience say otherwise

Yknee jerk" ?   No. it's an honest opinion. Either you are running a professional practice offering a quality prfessional service to clients, or, you are running a branch of "Accounts-R-Us" providing a cheap and cheerful service from a shop.  I dont think there is any in between.

 

Posted by DBlood on Wed, 22/06/2011 - 14:25

The two are not mutually exclusive.

It would appear your 'honest opinion' is based on uninformed assumptions rather than fact.

I personally know many shopfront accountants that are fully qualified, and have years of experience! I know this for fact and it is not based on opinion. Also, why do you assume it is a 'cheap & cheerful' service? Do you know one that operates that way, and if so, does that make it mandatory for all shopfronts to operate that way. Why not choose reality over opinion?

We support Professional-R-Us (sorry! couldn't resist the pun)  :)

Thanks (0)
Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
22nd Jun 2011 15:26

I can't really see the value in doing it

Never had one, so not speaking from experience here.

I suppose a shop front does bring down the barriers with some casual prospective clients who feel a little intimidated in opening the front door to an office which they cannot see the other side of.

But there lies the problem.  As at least one other poster has stated, time wasters, salesmen, etc feel less intimidated at passing over your threshold, as they "can see you are not too busy".

Does the income from the additional subbies, pensioners, start-up sole traders (I doubt whether more experienced potential clients would feel intimidated at entering a closed office for the first time) outweigh the financial cost of planning and installing the shop front and the time cost of time wasters?  I doubt it.

Spend the money on something better like a moat, draw bridge and sign that says "no time wasters, please"!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By DBlood
22nd Jun 2011 16:03

Yes

  Also, why do you assume it is a 'cheap & cheerful' service? Do you know one that operates that way, and if so, does that make it mandatory for all shopfronts to operate that way. Why not choose reality over opinion?

 

Posted by ShirleyM on Wed, 22/06/2011 - 14:46

 

The reality is that the vast majority of "shop front" practices are franchises, indeed most franchises insist on it. Stack em high and sell em cheap is the way franchises work, and it simply isnt professional.

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
22nd Jun 2011 16:19

More assumptions?

So, you say that the majority of shopfronts are run by franchisees. Is this fact, or opinion? You also say franchisees are not professional? Is this fact, or opinion?

Do you have personal experience of running a shopfront, or run a franchise, or maybe you have worked in one before your current employment? Without experience, or data, you are just expressing an opinion, and opinions are without foundation and can be biased.

I, and the shopfront accountants I know personally, are not franchisees. I speak from the experience of having a shopfront. I am professional, and I may be cheerful, but I'm not cheap, but even if I were 'cheap' I could still be professional!

EDIT: The reality is that the vast majority of "shop front" practices are franchises, indeed most franchises insist on it.

FirstTab mentioned TaxAssist. Which other (most???) franchises insist on it?

Thanks (0)
Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
22nd Jun 2011 16:41

Assumptions

DB - Franchises?  I presume you have lots around you?  On my 2 mile journey to my office I pass 5 firms of accountants with shop fronts, yes some are not that pretty and some look like they need a few thousand volts to bring them into the 19th century, but they have been there for years and none are franchises.  Surely, if franchsies were swamping the country with cheap & nasty outfits, the London area would be a great hunting ground?

It sounds a bit ivory tower with the baricades up, your end?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By DBlood
22nd Jun 2011 18:29

.
Do you have personal experience of running a shopfront, or run a franchise, or maybe you have worked in one before your current employment? Without experience, or data, you are just expressing an opinion, and opinions are without foundation and can be biased.

 

EDIT: The reality is that the vast majority of "shop front" practices are franchises, indeed most franchises insist on it.

FirstTab mentioned TaxAssist. Which other (most???) franchises insist on it.

Posted by ShirleyM on Wed, 22/06/2011 - 16:19

 

 

I am not an employee, I am an employer.  I havent been an employee for a very long time. 

No, I havent run a shopfront, as I said I consider them to be unprofessional having started my practice in an era when advertising of any kind was strictly banned. 

If you examine the sites of almost all the franchises, they all insist, recommend, or strongly advise, shop front premises. 

I very much doubt whether there is a source of empirical statistics on the number of shop front premises, but, I could just as easily ask you to provide data to support your view that the majority are not franchises - do you have those figures, or is that just "your opinion" ?  Do you have data to support your view that the majority are not "cheap and cheerful", or is that too "just your opinion"?

Other indicators are of course more practical. For instance a shop front location is unlikely to support extensive easy parking for clients - which inconveniences them when delivering large amounts of paperwork, staff parking is similarly going to be at a premium, non existant, or inconvenient.  Being situated on a high street also implies a level of noise pollution (and air pollution from passing traffic)  which cannot aid concentration or be conducive to a healthy work environment.

 

 

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
22nd Jun 2011 19:31

Oops :(

"I am not an employee, I am an employer.  I havent been an employee for a very long time."

It looks like I am guilty of making an assumption! An ex-member(2) stated that you, and he, worked for, or with, another ex-member(1), and you said you were a colleague of ex-member(2). I took that to mean you were also an employee of ex-member(1). Not an unreasonable assumption, but I apologise if I was wrong. So if you don't 'work for' ex-member(1) then you must 'work with' ex-member(1). Is this correct or did ex-member(2) get it wrong?

"I could just as easily ask you to provide data to support your view that the majority are not franchises - do you have those figures, or is that just "your opinion" ?  Do you have data to support your view that the majority are not "cheap and cheerful", or is that too "just your opinion"?"

"The reality is that the vast majority of "shop front" practices are franchises, indeed most franchises insist on it."

I didn't put forward any opinions, I only spoke from my personal experience and knowledge. I wasn't sure whether you were quoting facts (as they appeared to be), or opinions, which is why I asked you if they were facts, or opinions.

"If you examine the sites of almost all the franchises, they all insist, recommend, or strongly advise, shop front premises. "

So you now say that most franchises don't insist. Some just recommend or strongly advise.

As for parking, we (and the shopfronts accountants I know) have lots of free parking right outside the door. I have already mentioned we are not in a town centre, and neither are my buddies. I didn't impart any opinions of anyone else's shopfronts.

Lets just remind ourselves of FirstTabs post:

If you do have a shopfront, I would be grateful if you could share your experience. What is it lke?

You have never had a shopfront. I have, and I have tried to help FirstTab, but this thread has been hijacked and I doubt that any other shopfront accountants will post here now that they have been informed they are unprofessional!

Sorry FirstTab! Better luck next time.

Thanks (0)
bike
By FirstTab
22nd Jun 2011 20:52

Thread has gone off the rails

Thank you there are some very helpful comments on this thread. Now the thread has gone off the rails.

I would be grateful if we could move away from the point about shop fronts being unprofessional etc.

Please share your experience and your  constructive views about shop fronts.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By DBlood
22nd Jun 2011 23:20

Typical

[Removed by mod - not relevant to OP]

 

 

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
23rd Jun 2011 07:32

???

A typical BKD post - always destructive, never constructive, and predictably insulting to others.

 Posted by DBlood on Wed, 22/06/2011 - 23:20

I wasn't offended by BKD. He was quoting from a very famous comedy scene, and followed it up with a balanced view of the comments made previously.

I am more likely to be offended by someone saying I am unprofessional!

Sorry, FirstTab, but this thread is well and truly off the rails and I won't be posting here again.

Thanks (0)
bike
By FirstTab
23rd Jun 2011 07:58

Shirley

As you know (I hope) I find your posts very helpful. Please do not stop posting.

This thread is very important to me. I am disappointed the way it has gone.

Thanks (0)
By ShirleyM
23rd Jun 2011 09:27

FirstTab

Thank you for those kind words :)

A little bit of encouragement and appreciation goes a long way.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By DBlood
23rd Jun 2011 09:35

Why ask if you dont want the answers

It seems that honest opinions are not sought - merely those that agree with the preconceived ideas of a certain section.

Closed minds unwilling to learn from those far more experienced.

 

Thanks (0)
By Jenny Howell
23rd Jun 2011 11:26

Something more constructive

I purposely haven't moderated this thread yet as I am hoping we can all be sensible and just move onto something more constructive.

If it gets a little out of hand as threads have previously, we will take appropriate action.

Thanks in advance,

Jenny

Thanks (0)
avatar
By BKD
23rd Jun 2011 19:51

Thank you, Shirley

You are right - there was never any intention to offend or insult anyone. I'm glad that at least one person remembers the film and was able to see the humour in my post :)

 

 

Thanks (0)
Share this content

Related posts